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The rise of VastarEdit
Following the fall of Grong-Haap, every ten years or so, entire tribes of orcs would vanish in the night, abducted by shadowy creatures that appeared suddenly and took them unawares. In time, rumors pointed to Ironfang Keep, the old capital of Grong-Haap, held to be the lair of cultists that experimented on beasts and people alike. The words of the few surviving witnesses passed into orc folklore.
The hordes of VastarEdit
The history of Vastar was a turbulent one, with frequent coups, bloody civil wars, constant strife, and regular attacks and counter-attacks against their neighbors and other creatures who lived in their land. They were populous enough, however, that they could quickly outgrow any setback. Overcrowding was rarely a problem; every dozen years, a horde would form in the summer, steal or build ships, and sail south over the Inner Sea to raid. Their survivors rarely returned, instead spreading south.
For their crude ship-building efforts, the orcs cut down the great forests of their land. When they ran out of timber, they went via rickety boats across the Dragon Reach to take what they wanted from Cormanthor but, upon landing, the elves there were often quick to slaughter them with arrow and spell. Changing tactics, the orcs went by land north of the Reach, sending armies marching over the River Lis. Again elven arrows found them slowly marching through the marshes, and the slaughters gave the Lis the orcish name of "Blood River". They made several such invasions by sea and land.
Late in the Year of Cold Clashes, 331 DR, the orcs of Vastar launched a surprise attack on Cormanthyr, and occupied a portion of the lands east of the Old Elven Court. They solidified their forces in the area over the next few years, and meanwhile explored that old and ruined elven city. The Akh'Velahrn forces of Myth Drannor attempted to recover these lands four times. The fourth attempt, in the Year of Seven Stones, 335 DR, resulted in the Darkwoods Massacre, in which the orcs took advantage of elven negligence to surround and slaughter over a thousand soldiers in their sleep. It wasn't until the Year of the Vanished Foe, 339 DR that the occupying orcs were routed by combined elvish and human forces, with the human warrior Velar emerging as a hero.
In the Year of the Wyvernfall, 512 DR, Vastar was on the rampage again, with orc hordes from here and other strongholds emerging and threatening Cormanthyr and many other lands with war. Swarming through many small passes of the Earthspur Mountains, the orc chieftain Ulbror and his horde invaded the uplands of Impiltur instead. There, the orcs slew King Sharaun Mirandor, his three heirs, and their army, killing off the Mirandor dynasty. However, Ulbror and the orcs were defeated later that year by another army mustered by Duke Harandil Durlaven, being routed at the Battle of Bloody Reeds.
The fall of VastarEdit
At some point, a monstrous orc called Ologh rose to the position of Overking of Vastar and created a throne for himself, holding court from the Hollow Mountain. But Ologh the Overking was killed by the black dragon Iyrauroth in the Year of Writhing Darkness, 572 DR, leaving the position vacant. With that, Vastar descended into civil war as orcish factions battled for control across the land. In the Year of the Gored Griffin, 574 DR, orcs spilled out into north-eastern Cormanthyr again.
Meanwhile, underground, dwarves from the north and east expanded their mines into the mountains of Vastar. After initial clashes with the orcs in their tunnels, the dwarves decided to let no orc who'd seen a dwarf remain alive, to prevent any word reaching orcish chieftains of the nature of their enemy. The dwarves were subtly aided by the downtrodden goblin and kobold slaves of the orcs: the dwarves left them alone, and so they never told the orcs about the dwarves they saw, nor helped them in battle. The unexplained deaths of large numbers of orcs in the mountains were blamed on the civil war.
After eight bloody years, one orc finally won out as Grimmerfang defeated and devoured his last rival and seized the throne in the Year of the Loose Coins, 580 DR. Orc-King Grimmerfang renamed the Hollow Mountain after himself—Mount Grimmerfang—and ended warfare among the orcs of Vastar, at least for a short time.
However, the dwarves continued to encroach from the west, spreading underground and putting increasing pressure on the orcs. Meanwhile, Vastar suffered repeated defeats to the elves. Working with humans and elves, the dwarves secretly developed orcslayer blades and then surged out of the mountains to "run in waist-high riot across the land" (according to the sage Fairin Icemantle, who wrote the only first-hand account of the conflict) and slaughtered the orcs. Vastar fell in the Year of the Spellfire, 610 DR, and Grimmerfang was slain in his namesake mountain, while the survivors were driven north and south into the mountain peaks.
The dwarves claimed the surface lands for themselves and founded Roldilar, the Realm of Glimmering Swords, holding court from Mount Grimmerfang. Humans also began coming to the land. This peace lasted for a mere 39 years; the orcs recovered and won a succession of victories against the dwarves above and below ground. Roldilar fell but, unfortunately for the orcs, the humans kept coming and Vastar was never restored.
The lands of the Vast were originally quite heavily forested but the orcs carelessly cut these trees down to fuel their war with Myth Drannor. This left only a few copses of trees surrounded by wide, empty grasslands, as could be found in the Vast in modern times.
The orcs were assembled in large groups called glauraur. Glauraur were not based around families and nor were they collections of clans, as some human sages mistakenly thought, but they were precursors to tribes. The orcs had little concept of family past the time children were raised, and so all the orcs of Vastar were interrelated. They were also numerous and highly fertile, so despite bloody civil wars and feasting dragons, they could be back to full strength within a generation. Overcrowding was also never an issue, as internal warfare and dragons placed a limit on their numbers, and hordes invading foreign lands allowed them to migrate.
Each glauraur followed an orcish hero who led by charisma, brutality, or fear. These chieftains struggled constantly against each other for prestige and thus to get closer to the Overking. The other orcs gossiped about their struggles.
The chief aims of the orcs were power and hedonism, and they loved to hunt down, torture, and finally devour their prey—and their enemies. For food, they busied themselves with basic farming, fishing, and hunting, while they operated mines and forges to produce their weapons. They regularly raided others to seize what goods they lacked. They were an undisciplined, reckless, powerful, and proud people, confident that their enemies could not challenge the so-called "teeth of Vastar".
However, they never attacked their enemies strategically, let alone engaged in trade or diplomacy. Thus Vastar was characterized by frequent conflict, strife, coups, and counterattacks, between the orcs and against all others who shared the land with them. Their greatest enemies were the dragons of the Moonsea, who enjoyed roast orc, and the elves of Cormanthyr, and they had some caution around them.
The Vastar orcs built ships with which they crossed the Dragon Reach and even the Inner Sea. These were crude, poorly made constructions, described as "barges with sails" by one elven contemporary.
The exact location of the Hollow Mountain, or Mount Grimmerfang—the seat of power of Vastar's last Overkings and the resting place of Grimmerfang—became lost over the centuries. The few remaining dwarven elders who knew the location refused to talk about it to humans or elves. The sage Elminster reckoned it was the first peak north-east of Mount Wolf, but hadn't investigated this himself.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 143–144. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 41. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 126. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 77. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 158. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 50. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Brian R. James (2007-01-07). Ironfang Keep. Realmslore. Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 71. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 214. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 38. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 127. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 40. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 128. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 79,89. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 42. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 92,94. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.